What has drawn you to writing for the YA market?
I think that teenagers today are part of one of the most exciting generations I can imagine. They have access to the Gospel like no generation before them, and they have the resources that are unprecedented to reach others worldwide. They’re hungry for truth, and they’re willing to go “all in” when they find it. They’re not sleepwalking on their way to church. They’re eighteen and already thinking about their legacies. I couldn’t be more honored to write for them.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
When I was in college, I co-hosted a talk show on our student radio station. It was actually called “Love Talk,” and we acted like we were experts and dished out advice. I think most of my sage advice amounted to “call her” or “dump him.”
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I have always had to write. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing, but it took me many years before I tried to become a published author. When I was younger, I never seriously considered pursuing the dream because I figured that only truly great writers had any right to go for it, and I mean great in the sense of Steinbeck or Updike.
I know I don’t come close to those masters of the craft, but the Lord helped me let go of perfectionism and pursue this thing. He was faithful when I wasn’t, and I believe that’s because He gave me the dream in the first place.
I remember many years ago when I prayed because I couldn’t afford a laptop computer, and it was stifling my writing. Days later I received a used one for free. It was an incredible gift not only because I needed it, but because I realized that just maybe I didn’t invent this dream on my own. I began to accept the very humbling idea that writing might not only be my dream, but it might be His calling on my life. And so over the past several years I took my dream off the shelf where I had been keeping it “safe” I placed it all at His feet. Personally, that was a big moment for me. I knew He could take it away entirely. I knew that just being called to something doesn’t mean you’ll be successful in the world’s terms. But I didn’t want to spend my life holding on to a dream if it wasn’t what He wanted, and I didn’t want to hide from it if it was what He gave me.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I love Christian apologetics books like The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel because they’re what brought me to understand the faith more completely. I love Christian fiction and right now I’m reading Jordyn Redwood’s Proof.
I also love books that make me see the human condition in a new way. Jonathan Franzen and Chris Cleave are amazing contemporary authors on that front. Sometimes when I read them I want to applaud, but usually I’m just saying, “Wow. Wow.” They went for it. They did their best to show truth. Even if I don’t agree with everything an author writes, I appreciate the work when he’s going after truth. It allows me to see the story of humanity from someone else’s eyes. And it reminds me of how grateful I am to be a Christian because I know that the story of the human condition does end in hope. Awesome hope in Christ.
What other books have you written?
My first novel, called Twin, got a second pass at a major publishing house, but it ultimately didn’t make the cut. At the time, I was simply thrilled for the consideration.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Quiet time with the Lord is the most important thing I do in any given day. He never fails.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of, besides family?
I ran the Army Ten-Miler in
which for me was a difficult task! I hope to do it again one day. Washington, D.C.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Anything but a cat.
What is your favorite food?
Is it hard to break into the YA market?
It’s a growing market, and I believe publishing houses are looking for fresh voices that understand they’re competing for a young adult’s attention in the face of some fascinating distractions, even if its MTV or the latest YouTube video. That doesn’t mean we dumb down our work. It means we have to raise our game.
What advice would you give to an author wanting to do that?
Most importantly, writers write. You should always be writing and developing new work. I set a weekly word goal when drafting my novel, and it was a great tool to stay focused. Second, writers share. If you are unpublished, get into writing critique groups and let them offend you! Give your work to people who aren’t your friends, and start submitting to agents, journals, contests. If you can afford to go to a writer’s conference like ACFW, I would highly recommend it. You’ll gain feedback and be able to grow from the experience. I promise that your work will never “feel” ready enough. Sometimes you just have to press send.
What would you like to tell us about the featured book?
Like Moonlight at Low Tide is the story of what comes after you’ve been bullied. What if you finally get everything you ever wanted? This is a young adult book, but many adult readers have told me that they loved the story. I think many of us have things that we’ve believed about ourselves for years, whether because we were bullied or for other reasons, and this is a story about seeing those things with new eyes.
Please share the first page with us.
People never ask me the right question when they ask me what happened the beginning of my senior year. They always ask what his last words were. They figure he would have had great
ones, the kind that would haunt a girl and echo off of empty lockers long after graduation. They wait breathlessly for me to describe the moment he jumped off the boat and into the glass-topped Gulf, cutting the ribbon of moonlight on the surface with the white of his arms.
“Surely he was trying to kill himself,” they’d say. “Why else would he leap into the water without the hope of rescue?”
And so I tell them what they earnestly hope to hear. How I searched desperately for the bob of his head in the water. How I jumped in myself, swimming fifteen feet until I felt the absence of
the boat behind me, the vessel leaning away from the edge of the bay and into the dark, magnetic waters of the deep. They want to hear how hard it was to make my way back to the boat, and how, by then, the storm was beginning to unleash its rage. They want to hear how I scoured the cabinets for a radio and failed. How I searched for a flare gun but found no rescue.
And when I tell them of all of these things, they never ask — and I never mention — that I did all of them in complete silence.
The truth is, he said nothing before he jumped. And I never called his name, not once. I knew that he had plunged into that water so that he could not be found.
When the sheriff pulled his boat next to mine, he spoke the first words I had heard in hours. He lifted me from beneath the captain’s console, where I had waited with my knees tucked under my chin. That was the evening Hurricane Paul swept through our state.
This story is not about suicide. But you should know that when I was seventeen, the only boy who ever called me by my full name took his own life. It was the first time I ever saw a mistake that was permanent, that couldn’t be undone with whiteout or atoned for with an after-school detention. Nothing else I do for the rest of my life will ever be able to change this fact.
This story is actually about three boys. One who loved me. One who couldn’t. And one who didn’t know how.
My name is Melissa Keiser, and I was raised on Anna Maria Island, Florida.
The best description of the place I can provide you is a temperature: eighty degrees. It is not always eighty degrees on the island, but the humidity looming off the white foam of the Gulf
of Mexico combined with the faint, sickly sweet emission from the orange juice factory always seems to make the place feel like it’s been wrapped in a warm blanket, just soft enough to make you feel safe or sleepy, but always feel slow if you tried to move too much within its folds. In truth, it is the most beautiful beach town I have ever seen. And then the breeze comes and reality finds you hiding behind a sand dune.
The Anna Maria I’m writing of is not the same island that you would see if you went online and searched the images posted by Yankee tourists and gray-haired Canadians. Those visitors love the island as much as anyone who has never suffered here can.
How can readers find you on the Internet?I’m on www.nicolequigleybooks.com , and I’m on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nicolequigleybooks. I would love to hear any feedback on the book because I’m always trying to grow as a writer.
Thank you, Nicole, for sharing your book with us today.
Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
Like Moonlight at Low Tide: Sometimes the Current Is the Only Thing that Saves You - paperback
Like Moonlight at Low Tide: Sometimes the Current Is the Only Thing that Saves You - Kindle
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